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Dr. William Laupus, former ECU medical dean, dies

Laupus led the medical school from 1975-1988. File photo
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Feb. 15, 2005)   —   Dr. William Laupus, who came to the East Carolina University School of Medicine two years before it admitted its first four-year class of medical students and led the school as dean until 1988, died Tuesday, Feb. 15 after an extended illness. He was 83.

Laupus, who grew up wanting to be a doctor and fulfilled that dream by becoming a pediatrician, is remembered as a generous, considerate and thoughtful doctor, leader and person.

“"Bill was a superb human being, a great physician, a dedicated leader and a first-class administrator,"” said Dr. Tom Irons, ECU associate vice chancellor for regional health services. “"Among the things I remember most fondly is his generous heart."”

Laupus was the dean of the School of Medicine from 1975 to 1988, one of five university vice chancellors from 1982 to 1987 and vice chancellor for health sciences from 1987 to 1989.

Laupus received the O. Max Gardner Award in 1989, the highest honor given by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. In 1993, the health sciences library at ECU was named for him.

Laupus grew up in Seymour, Ind. His father sold hardware and farm implements, and his mother taught English. Laupus lettered in four sports in high school. A good student, he won a scholarship to Yale University and went on to medical school there. Laupus just missed overseas duty in World War II, but Army service did interrupt his residency and sent him to a Veterans Administration hospital in Marion, Ind. There, he met his future wife, Evelyn, an Army psychiatric nurse from Ahoskie.

Newly married, Laupus completed his residency at Cornell University Medical Center in New York City, stayed a couple of years as the equivalent of today’s neonatalogist, then joined a private specialty practice in Detroit. But conveyor-belt medicine and a preoccupation with the bottom line didn’t suit him, and he longed for the scholarly environment of academic medicine.

He spent four years at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, then went to the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, becoming chairman of the Department of Pediatrics there. The fledgling ECU School of Medicine provided him with his next career step.

“"Bill Laupus was a very special man who was right for the times and made an extraordinary contribution to heath care in eastern Carolina,"” said Dave McRae, chief executive officer of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina. “"Bill became a personal friend and mentor, starting with my first visit with him in Ragsdale Hall in the earliest days of the medical school. There were many times that Bill'’s wisdom and careful, thoughtful approach to issues helped me make decisions that were better for all. He leaves a towering legacy that will always be the foundation for all that the rest of us do in health care for all this region.”"

Irons met Laupus in 1981 when he was interviewing for a position on the pediatric faculty at the School of Medicine. At that interview, Laupus smoked his familiar pipe and introduced Irons to Earl Gray tea.

“"I looked up to him as a primary role model in my professional life,"” Irons said.

Laupus is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter and several grandchildren. Another daughter died approximately 10 years ago.

S.G. Wilkerson and Sons is handling the funeral arrangements.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2481